By Anish Chand
School teachers in Fiji have been informed of major changes in their contracts which has taken away among others their entitlement for compassionate leave.
In a newsletter issued to all teachers, the Human Resources department of Fiji's Ministry of Education has outlined new reporting lines between the district education offices and the head-office.
Teachers are reminded that their contract specifies the leave arrangements applicable to their role and that the General Orders apply.
“The General Orders do not have any provision for compassionate leave nor do employment contracts and there is, therefore, no entitlement to compassionate leave. Managers should not be approving requests for compassionate leave,” reads the HR newsletter.
Teachers who are found to have used corporal punishment will have their contracts terminated immediately.
“Corporal punishment is never acceptable and teachers must never use corporal punishment. Parents cannot authorise a teacher to use corporal punishment in relation to their child and teachers cannot encourage one student to inflict corporal punishment on another,” teachers are told.
In addition to the termination of contract, Instances of corporal punishment will be reported to the police and may result in criminal charges.
In other changes, teachers have been told that the Director Primary and Director Secondary no longer have the authority to appoint and transfer teachers.
“The Directors for Primary and Secondary and their staff are no longer responsible for staffing issues and they do not make decisions in relation to transfers, any appointments, discipline matters or staffing issues. Please refer all staffing issues to the HR Department, not Directors Primary and Secondary.” reads the newsletter.
All teacher complaints received at district level are to be reported to the HR department in Suva.
Teacher discipline issue may include poor or under performance not able to be resolved through a performance management process; failure to uphold the Public Service Values; breaches of the Code of Conduct; or failure to comply with the General Orders and/or Civil Service or Ministry policies and procedures.
“A complaint should be investigated in the school/work unit and, if it identifies a discipline issue, then that is referred to the HR Department,” teachers are told.
The new structure for the Ministry’s Head Office and District/Division Offices has been agreed by the Minister for Education.